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The Steelers lose two more players from 2019 to free agency

After the agreement with Eric Ebron on Friday, neither Nick Vannett or Artie Burns were players many Steelers’ fans expected to stay in Pittsburgh

NFL: DEC 15 Bills at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Going into the start of the 2020 NFL league year, they were several players from the Steelers 2019 roster who were believed to be moving on to other situations. As great as he was with the Steelers, it was inevitable they could not afford Javon Hargrave as he signed a 3-year $39 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. The losses of Tyler Matakevich and Sean Davis were also to be expected. Offensive lineman B.J. Finney was a player some thought the Steelers might retain, but after signing his deal with the Seattle Seahawks the Steelers acquired Stefen Wisniewski for a fraction of the cost.

Another player many in Steelers’ Nation knew would be moving on was cornerback and former first-round draft pick Artie Burns. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Burns has signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

The Steelers first round draft pick in 2016, Burns began his time in Pittsburgh with some promise. In his rookie season he had three interceptions while starting nine games. Following his rookie campaign, Burns struggled even as he started all 16 games and managed one interception. As the seasons went on, Burns productivity and playing time decreased as he failed to be active on game day to conclude the 2019 season.

Another player from the Steelers 2019 roster who hit free agency this week was one many thought the Steelers would attempt to retain. The Steelers acquired tight end Nick Vannett from the Seattle Seahawks for a 2020 fifth-round draft pick which they received from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for quarterback Josh Dobbs. Joining the Steelers in Week 4, Vannett had 128 yards receiving on 13 receptions from 17 targets. With the Steelers signing free agent tight end Eric Ebron to a two-year deal, the need to retain Vannett dropped far on the priority list.

While some in Steelers’ Nation hoped Vannett would stick around as perhaps a third option at the position, the NFL network’s Ian Rappaport reported Vannett is signing a two-year deal with the Denver Broncos.

With the Steelers using the franchise tag on the Bud Dupree and placing Ryan Shazier on the Reserve/Retired List, the only unrestricted free agent remaining for the Steelers from 2019 is defensive tackle L.T. Walton. Joining the Steelers after the injury to Stephon Tuitt last season, Walton was available for the Steelers to sign off the street.

Until the specific numbers of the contracts are released for either Burns or Vannett, it is unclear where they will fall in the compensatory formula. If both players earn enough salary to qualify, it could greatly help the Steelers if they wish to make any more moves and yet still be able to earn one or more compensatory draft picks for the 2021 NFL draft.

UPDATE: The numbers behind the contract for Nick Vannett have been reported at $5.75 million for two years.

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